Dave's Warden Report, Vol 8

"EYE IN THE SKY"

On November 17, 1994, several of the wardens from the Antigo area were patrolling northern Langlade County with DNR pilot Dan Doberstein acting as our eyes overhead. This was two days before the deer gun season opener and our objective was to locate bait piles and possibly a deer hunter or two who decided to open the season two days early.

The pilot located several large bait piles that day, one along Hwy 45 south of Summit Lake. When Dan gave me the exact location of the bait pile south of Summit Lake I checked in the plat book and found that Stanley Petslofski owned the 60 acres where the bait was located. My deputy (Phil Migas) and I drove past the property to see if the owner was there and saw that the gate was closed and no vehicles were observed by the trailer. There was no better time than the present to investigate so Phil dropped me off and I started to explore. I not only found the bait site the pilot had observed but two others as well. All bait sites contained pumpkins, carrots, rutabagas, corn, and some apples. All sites contained between 50-100 gallons of bait material easily exceeding the 10-gallon limit. Elevated deer stands had been built near each site. The Stanley Petslofski property became the latest entry on my list of things to do during the deer gun season.

Much to my surprise, the gate remained shut and I saw no activity or any vehicles by the trailer during the opening weekend. On Monday, November 21st the gate was finally open and two vehicles were now parked by the trailer. I figured the best time to find someone hunting would be late afternoon so at 3:30p.m. Phil dropped me off north of the gate and I proceeded to one of the baited stands. Again, I was surprised that no one was in the first stand. I then walked to the next stand but no one was there either. Now I really was confused. I was sure the people were at the trailer to deer hunt but couldn't figure out why they weren't in the stands. I finally decided this was another situation where the hunters (and I use that term lightly) were not going to their stand until dusk so I walked into the woods far enough away from the stands to the hunter(s) couldn't see my blaze orange but close enough to hear.

At 4:20p.m. I heard a vehicle moving slowly through the woods near the first stand. Quitting time was 4:33 p.m. that evening. At 4:50 p.m. I approached the first stand and did find a deer hunter in the stand overlooking the illegal bait site. I already had two violations. One for hunting over an illegal bait and another for hunting after hours. When I asked to see his hunting license Joey Sixpack could not show me a valid license. He did have a driver's license so I secured that and asked him to unload his rifle and stay in the stand until I returned.

I then hustled to the second stand and found Stanley Petslofski with a loaded rifle overlooking his illegal bait site. When I asked to see his license he produced one but the physical description didn't match. Stanley had already filled his license and decided to borrow his neighbors. I had Stanley unload his rifle and told him I would meet him at his truck. I then made my way towards the third stand. By now it was dark and I was a little nervous about approaching this stand. The hunter would be facing the direction I was coming from so I turned on my flashlight and made it obvious I wasn't a deer. The hunter (Billy Bob Sixpack) was waiting when I got to his stand. He too had a loaded rifle but no valid license.

Three hunters (shouldn't really call them hunters) checked and all were hunting after hours (hard not to hunt late when you first start at quitting time), all over illegal bait sites, two with no license and the third with a borrowed license. I thought I'd done a decent job but when we all got back to the trailer a fourth hunter had just returned. I don't know how I missed the fourth stand during my preseason scouting but I couldn't have gotten to him anyway. When I got home that evening I called the guy in Manitowoc who had loaned his license and after talking to him I issued him a citation also for loaning his license to another person.

I write about this story because it again shows the problems associated with baiting. There were always some who hunted late and even hunted without licenses but it became much much more prevalent with baiting. Baiting not only changes deer behavior but hunter behavior as well.

Not everyone who baits is a violator but all violators bait.



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